When it comes to challenges for book bloggers, I'll admit, I don't usually play. However, this year, one caught my eye: The Book Blog Discussion Challenge. Basically the idea is to commit to posting a certain number of discussion posts during the year, and then to link up and follow other bloggers discussions. This is my first entry for that challenge. I signed up at the Dabbler level, but I'm aiming for the high end of the scale.
Religion in Fiction
Kathleen Basi's Thoughts:
I've had a lot of anxiety over the years about my fiction. For example, there's a little bit of mild language in this book, and it's not really who I am--but I know that it's authentic. There are things that are talked about in this book, things that Miriam witnesses and things that are addressed head on such as sex outside of marriage and related issues that made me nervous as very committed Catholic whose faith is very, very important to me.
However, I believe we don't do ourselves any good by pretending that the ugly things in the world don't exist. If we create this Pleasantville kind of world in which everything is black and white, and there's the good guys and the bad guys , we contribute to a binary view of the world that does not hold up to reality. And if we want our faith to be able to witness to the real world, we have to acknowledge what the real world is like.
To circle back around, I have always existed in a real anxiety about how I'm on the crack between secular fiction and Christian fiction, because I'm really coming at it with a Christian worldview. And yet, at the same time, I'm departing from the some of the topics that would be in most Christian fiction.
One of my critique partners all the way through was saying, "Well, of course, she's [Miriam] having an existential crisis, any person of faith who goes through what she's going through-- she's grappling with the loss of her family-- it would be weird and inauthentic if she didn't have these questions."
Kathleen and I talked for quite some time, but here is where we talked about faith in fiction
From Penelope Stokes:
That shift was intentional.... I wanted to be able to address issues of diversity from a spiritual perspective, and as you observed, I wasn’t able to do that in a conventional Christian publishing setting.
I originally published in the evangelical markets because...that’s where I started...and...because at the time the general market wasn’t doing much with spiritual fiction.... It’s true that my general market novels contain subject matter that would be unacceptable to an evangelical publisher, and some of my early readers have castigated me for abandoning my faith. Nothing could be further from the truth.... I really want readers to see that our preconceived notions of God are just that—our notions.
In the sense of writing evangelical novels that offer answers instead of raising questions? Probably not. But then, even when I was writing for the Christian markets, my novels didn’t fit that mold. I was always pretty much a duck out of water.
Too many Christians think we are supposed to use the arts to give people the answers. We’re not. We’re supposed to use the arts to lead them into a question.